This paper from Trish Greenhalgh and colleagues explores the lived experience of ‘brain fog’—the wide variety of neurocognitive symptoms that can follow Covid-19.
This article is a preprint and has not been peer-reviewed.
Qualitative analysis revealed the following themes:
- mixed views on the appropriateness of the term ‘brain fog’
- rich descriptions of the experience of neurocognitive impairments (especially executive function, attention, memory and language), accounts of how the illness fluctuated—and in some but not all cases, resolved—over time
- the profound psychosocial impact of the condition on relationships, personal and professional identity; self-perceptions of guilt, shame and stigma
- strategies used for self-management; challenges accessing and navigating the healthcare system
- participants’ search for physical mechanisms to explain their symptoms.
These qualitative findings complement research into the epidemiology and underlying pathophysiological mechanisms for neurological symptoms after COVID-19. Services for such patients should include: an ongoing therapeutic relationship with a clinician who engages with the illness in its personal, social and occupational context as well as specialist services that are accessible, easily navigable, comprehensive, and interdisciplinary.